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Credit Union HR Series: How to Attract & Retain Talent

Luke Kreitner
8/10/23 10:01 AM

The number one HR challenge facing credit unions today is attracting and retaining talent, according to a recent article in CU Management. The current hiring market is not working in our favor. Factors such as record Baby Boomer retirements, low labor force participation rates, wage stagnation, and the ongoing pandemic have collectively contributed to what is known as The Great Resignation. Even the financial industry has been affected, as data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that over 100,000 employees resigned from jobs in the financial services sector each month during the first quarter of 2022. In other words, more than 300,000 individuals left the finance and banking industry in the first quarter alone.

Gone are the days when traditional recruiting strategies would suffice — the current landscape demands more. Today's candidates in the financial industry are discerning and explicit about their job requirements. They pay close attention to the reputation and values of the companies they consider joining. It is crucial to offer competitive compensation and benefits, although that alone may not be enough.

So, what can credit unions do to address the challenges of recruiting and retaining top talent? 


Strengthen Your Employee Value Proposition (EVP)

To excel in financial services recruiting, it is crucial to establish a robust employee value proposition (EVP). An EVP serves as the compelling reason why employees would choose to work for your organization. In today's candidate-driven market, you need to effectively market your company to potential candidates by emphasizing the following in your job descriptions and social media content:

  • Competitive compensation and attractive benefits packages
  • Career development opportunities
  • Provision of paid time off for vacation and sick leave
  • Emphasis on work-life balance
  • Commitment to diversity and inclusion
  • Foster a positive office environment
  • Offer wellness perks such as gym memberships, meal vouchers, and community service activities
  • Recognition programs that align with company values and business performance

Clearly articulating what sets you apart from competitors is crucial, as it provides financial services candidates with a compelling reason to choose your organization.


Establish Effective Training Programs

Personal development will also go a long way in attracting and retaining talent, but training takes time and credit union leaders wear many hats. However, here’s a 4-step process to simplify the work. 

  • Step 1: Assess training needs

Start by identifying and evaluating the specific training needs within your organization. This includes determining which teams or employees require training, what kind of training is necessary, and the most effective methods for delivering it. Identifying skills gaps, job requirements, and areas for improvement is essential. Seek input from employees, supervisors, and HR professionals to prioritize training priorities. Utilize data from CSAT surveys, employee performance reviews, sales achievements, employee engagement surveys, and exit surveys to answer important questions such as which areas require immediate training and who will benefit the most from it. This assessment will provide a solid foundation for setting your training objectives.

  • Step 2: Setting Organizational Training Objectives

Conduct a thorough training needs assessment to identify gaps in current training initiatives and employee skills/knowledge. Analyze and prioritize these gaps to formulate training objectives for the organization. Clearly state the purpose and expected outcome of the training in the training objectives and utilize the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) methodology to define the parameters of the training objectives. Ensure that the training objectives align with the broader objectives of the company. Provide options for hybrid, in-person, and online training programs. Identify any additional barriers to training, such as the need for employees to take time off.

Remember, the ultimate goal of any training program is to set the employees up for success. Therefore, it is crucial to establish clear and measurable training objectives that define the skills and knowledge that employees should acquire, as well as the expected outcomes. These objectives will serve as a roadmap for designing the training content.

  • Step 3: Creating a Training Action Plan

Design relevant training modules that are engaging and aligned with the organizational goals. Consider using various instructional methods, including workshops, e-learning platforms, and on-the-job training, to cater to diverse learning styles. Assess the resources required to implement the training program effectively, such as trainers, materials, technology tools, and facilities. Allocate the necessary budget and secure resources to ensure a seamless training experience. Develop a timeline that outlines the sequence and duration of each training module, taking into account factors like employee availability, work schedules, and organizational priorities.  Communicate the timeline to employees and stakeholders to manage expectations. Consider piloting the training initiatives and gathering feedback before launching them company-wide.

  • Step 4: Implementing Training Initiatives

Execute the training program based on the defined timeline, taking into account employee engagement, learning KPI goals, and available resources.

Monitor participant progress during the training to ensure the effectiveness of the program.

By following these informative steps, you can develop an effective training program that addresses the specific needs of your organization and contributes to its overall success.

Create a schedule for mandatory training to ensure employees stay up-to-date with banking regulations, cybersecurity protocols, ethics and compliance and fraud compliance. Consider offering specialized training for managers and employees responsible for workplace investigations.

By empowering credit union HR teams to tackle these challenges head-on, organizations can attract and retain top talent, foster a culture of continuous development, and ultimately thrive in the dynamic landscape of the financial services industry.


Maintaining HR Compliance: Staying Ahead of Changing Laws

Laws pertaining to employees undergo constant changes at various levels – local, state, and federal. These regulations govern aspects such as compensation, benefits, work hours, and leave, among others, and are subject to constant evolution.

For managers and human resources personnel, it is crucial to stay updated on these changes. Overlooking minor differences in employment law from year to year may result in HR policy errors. Furthermore, failing to acknowledge employment law amendments may lead to costly lawsuits filed by employees who feel wronged.

Given the criticality of being well-informed, HR departments must remain current on new and revised regulations that affect their industry. Here are some effective strategies to keep abreast of consequential changes that impact employees.

  1. Incorporate a designated "power hour" into your weekly schedule to focus on employment law compliance. This dedicated time allows you to both improve your understanding of employment law and develop plans to address any compliance issues identified.
  2. Stay up-to-date on changes in employment law by subscribing to email groups from HR organizations and networks. These resources provide valuable information on legislation, its pros and cons, and its potential impact on HR operations.
  3. Take a proactive approach to tracking employee law changes by joining regulatory forums and actively participating in shaping employee laws. Stay informed about upcoming changes through employment law newsletters and periodically assess any adjustments made to the law. Encourage collaboration among your HR, legal, compliance, and communications teams to mitigate any existential, reputational, or regulatory risks.
  4. Update your employee handbook annually and have it reviewed by external counsel. This ensures that any legal changes you may have missed are appropriately addressed. Keeping tabs on legal and industry newsletters can be challenging, and external counsel can help identify any overlooked updates.
  5. Tap into diverse professional networks to expand your knowledge as an HR leader. Cultivate a brain trust of HR professionals across diverse industries who can provide insights and shed light on blind spots. By taking these proactive steps, you can stay informed about your responsibilities as an employer and the rights of employees.
  6. Leadership often turns to HR to handle difficult employee situations, necessitating HR professionals to be well-versed in employment laws across various states. Providing incorrect advice could potentially lead to legal disputes for your company. In any situation where uncertainty arises, it is highly advisable to seek guidance from your legal counsel. Taking extra precautions may safeguard you from future regrets, whereas hasty actions might result in unfavorable outcomes.

It's crucial for credit unions to stay informed and make necessary policy and handbook updates to protect themselves from unnecessary risks. Pay equity laws, paid family and medical leave, sick leave regulations, and workplace harassment prevention requirements are just a few trends that may require adjustments. Remember, employee handbooks should be reviewed annually to ensure compliance with mandated updates.


Managing HR with Confidence: Overcoming Challenges

Credit union HR teams face unique challenges, but with the right resources and solutions, success is attainable. Recognizing limitations and exploring options that complement your team and organization's needs is key. By addressing the HR fundamentals and implementing strategies tailored to your organization, you can confidently manage HR and ensure compliance with employment laws.


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